New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Friday said that freebies promised by political parties in their election manifestos shake the roots of free and fair polls. It also directed the Election Commission to frame proper guidelines for regulating the contents of manifestos.
    
A bench of justices P Sathasivam and Ranjan Gogoi said that though the election manifesto is published before the code of conduct comes into force, the Commission can make an exception by bringing it within code of conduct.
    
The judgement can have wide ramifications and can also put a curb on political parties promising different types of freebies like distributing laptops, TVs, grinders and mixers, electric fans, four gram gold 'thali' (plate) and free foodgrains, if voted to power.
    
"There is no guideline for regulating the contents of election manifesto. We direct the Election Commission to frame guidelines on it," the bench said.

"We direct the Election Commission to take up the task (of framing guidelines) immediately," it said. The apex court also said that a separate legislation should be made on this issue. It said that freebies promised by political parties disturb the level playing field among players contesting the polls and vitiate the election process.
    
The bench, however, dismissed the plea challenging J Jayalalithaa government's decision to implement AIADMK's poll promise of free household items to voters, saying that under the present law, promises of freebies made in the manifesto do not amount to corrupt practices.

(Agencies)

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